The Translator as Communicator

The Translator as Communicator Adopting an integrated approach to the practice of translation, Hatim and Mason provide a refreshingly unprejudiced contribution to translation theory. The authors argue
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The Translator as Communicator Adopting an integrated approach to the practice of translation, Hatim and Mason provide a refreshingly unprejudiced contribution to translation theory. The authors argue that the division of the subject into literary and non-literary, technical and non-technical is unhelpful and misleading. Instead of dwelling on these differentials, the authors focus on what common ground exists between these distinctions. Through their investigation into how, for example, the Bible translator and the simultaneous interpreter can learn from each other, sets of parameters begin to evolve. The proposed model is presented through a series of case studies, ranging from legal texts to poems, each of which focuses on one particular feature of text constitution, while not losing sight of how this contributes to the whole analytic apparatus. Their approach is durable and meaningful, especially in view of recent developments in the study of translation and communication, and their book will be of immense interest both to aspiring students of translation and to professionals already working in the field. Basil Hatim and Ian Mason are both based at the Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Both have published extensively in the area of translation and co-wrote Discourse and the Translator (1990). The Translator as Communicator Basil Hatim and Ian Mason London and New York First published 1997 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-library, To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge s collection of thousands of ebooks please go to Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY Basil Hatim and Ian Mason The authors have asserted their moral rights in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data Hatim, B. (Basil) The translator as communicator/basil Hatim and Ian Mason. Includes bibliographical references (p.) and index. 1. Translating and interpreting. I. Mason, I. (Ian), 1944 II. Title. P.306.H dc ISBN Master e-book ISBN ISBN (hbk) ISBN (pbk) Contents List of figures v Preface vi Sources of samples ix 1 Unity in diversity 1 2 Foundations for a model of analysing texts 12 3 Interpreting: a text linguistic approach 30 4 Texture in simultaneous interpreting 51 5 Politeness in screen translating 65 6 Register membership in literary translating 81 7 Form and function in the translation of the sacred and sensitive text 8 Gross-cultural communication Ideology Text-level errors Curriculum design Assessing performance Glossary 177 Notes 203 References 209 Index 213 Figures 2.1 Scene set and expanded Standards and domains of textuality The interaction of text with context The static/dynamic continuum Text within text Accessibility of context, structure and texture Two readings of withdrawing Idiolect in the Arabic version Idiolect in French, Catalan and Portuguese versions Register features as intended signs Typology of argumentation Argumentation across cultures Target text counter-argumentative format Ways of saying and ways of meaning Close back-translation from Arabic of Sample Continuum of evaluativeness Scale of markedness Intentionality and register on the static/dynamic scale A graded programme of presentation Translator abilities 171 Preface As the title of this book suggests, we look upon all kinds of acts of translating as essentially acts of communication in the same sense as that which applies to other kinds of verbal interaction. Even apparent exceptions, such as legal texts which constitute an official record of decisions made, or poems which are purely selfexpressive, are nevertheless texts composed in the full knowledge that they are likely to be read and to elicit a response. They provide evidence on the basis of which people construct meaning. It is this characteristic which defines the common ground of a wide variety of translation activities: literary translating, religious translating, technical translating, interpreting, subtitling and dubbing, selectively reducing a text in a different language, and so on. Typically, a translator operates on the verbal record of an act of communication between source language speaker/writer and hearers/readers and seeks to relay perceived meaning values to a (group of) target language receiver(s) as a separate act of communication. (In some situations, for example liaison interpreting, the source language act of communication is intended directly and only for a target language receiver.) This is then the essential core, the common ground which we take as the point of departure for our study. Instead of dwelling on what differentiates the literary from the non-literary, the interpreter from the translator, and so on distinctions which are well documented already this book focuses on text features which serve as clues to an underlying textual strategy. For it is the case that all texts must satisfy basic standards of textuality before acquiring the additional characteristics of being literary, technical, oral, etc. And characteristics which come to the fore in particular fields of activity may be seen to be present in others where they are not so readily noticed. For example, an idiolectal feature which is conspicuous as a characteristic of someone s casual speech style may also play an important part in literary character portrayal. Features of politeness which are the common currency of face-to-face interaction may also be perceived in semi-technical, literary or sacred written texts. And ability to draw inferences is a universal of human verbal communication. Approaching texts (as written or spoken records of verbal communication) in terms of an overall, context-sensitive strategy is, we believe, both durable and meaningful as a way of developing translation competence and this study has a pedagogical angle in addition to its aim of investigating the nature of translation. It is perhaps worth stating our view that, if translator training is limited to those superficial characteristics of text which are most typical of what the technical or administrative translator is likely to encounter most of the time (specialized terminology, formulaic text conventions and so on), then the trainee will be singularly ill-equipped to deal with, say, metaphor, allusion, implicature when these occur as they do in technical texts. It is also true to say that the nature of communication itself has changed. The communication explosion has brought with it more flexibility, more creativity in the way people use language. Genres of writing and speaking are no longer static entities but are evolving and influencing each other. The stiffly formulaic use of language in official texts has diminished and there are departures from norms which are all the more significant for being unexpected. Prominent among the themes, concepts and procedures used in our discussions of texts will be the distinction between what we shall refer to as static and dynamic uses of language. While the static provides the translator with a stable world in which text conventions can be learned and applied, the dynamic poses a greater challenge to the translator s concern to retrieve and relay intended meanings. In our attempt to get to the root of what is going on in texts as records of communicative acts, this distinction is crucial and is closely bound up with approaches to the pragmatics and semiotics of translating. In Chapters 1 and 2, we set the scene for what is to follow. Chapter 1 provides some examples of similarities of underlying textual strategies in texts of very different provenance and in widely varying translator situations. Chapter 2, which is necessarily more theoretical, proposes a basic model of textuality and discusses the implications it has for our understanding of translation. Key issues are then explored in the following chapters through a series of case studies, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of text constitution in a particular field of translating. Chapter 3 presents an hypothesis about the role of context, structure and texture in various modes of interpreting and Chapter 4 applies this hypothesis to an investigation of the performance of simultaneous interpreters. Chapter 5 investigates politeness phenomena in screen subtitling, while Chapter 6 discusses the discoursal role of idiolect and how it is to be handled in literary translating. The tension between relaying form and function, a traditional area of debate in translation studies, is studied from a discourse-linguistic perspective in Chapter 7, with reference to the translation of the sacred or sensitive text. The cross-cultural competence of the translator is the subject of Chapter 8, in which the structure of argumentation in texts is studied from an intercultural perspective and found to be related to pragmatic factors such as politeness and to socio-cultural attitudes. This chapter provides the grounds for an understanding of ideology in translation, the subject of Chapter 9. Our final three chapters (10 to 12) explore training-related issues: the nature of beyond-thesentence or text-level errors in translating; an original approach to curriculum vii viii design based on a typology of texts; and approaches to the issue of translator performance assessment, all of which have been relatively neglected issues hitherto. In our text, we have adopted the following typographical conventions. Items highlighted in bold print are included in the glossary at the end of the book; we have generally restricted this procedure to first mention of such items. Square brackets enclose our own deliberately literal translations of text samples in languages other than English. Our thanks are due to generations of students who willingly took part in the experiments we conducted and often helped with their insights. Many friends and colleagues have helped us with their comments on earlier versions of the chapters in this book. Particular thanks are due to Ron Buckley, Charlene Constable, Ted Hope, John Laffling, Yvonne McLaren, Miranda Stewart and Gavin Watterson. Parts of the text were prepared during a period of study leave spent at the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and we are indebted to Allison Beeby, Sean Golden, Amparo Hurtado and Francesc Parcerisas for their generous help and support, as also to Mercè Tricàs and Patrick Zabalbeascoa of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Last but not least, thanks to Eugene Boyle for his patience in sorting out the software. All this support has been of inestimable value. As always, responsibility for any shortcomings which remain is ours alone. Basil Hatim, Ian Mason February 1996. Sources of samples 1.1 T.Kenneally (1982) Schindler s Ark. London: Hodder and Stoughton. 1.2 T.Kenneally (1994) La Lista de Schindler (trans. Carlos Peralta). Barcelona: RBA Proyectos Editoriales C.Bédard (1986) La Traduction technique: principes et pratique. Montreal: Linguatech. 1.6 S.Berk-Seligson (1990) The Bilingual Courtroom. Court Interpreters in the Judicial Process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990 University of Chicago. 1.7 A.Camus (1942) L Etranger. Paris: Gallimard, Editions Gallimard. 1.8 A.Camus (1946) The Outsider (trans. Stuart Gilbert). London: Hamish Hamilton. 2.1 Reprinted from the UNESCO Courier, April George Orwell (1954) Harmondsworth: Penguin. 2.3 Woman interviewed in a BBC television documentary. 2.4 A.Kertesz (1979) Visual agnosia: the dual deficit of perception and recognition, Cortex 15: (cited in Francis and Kramer-Dahl 1992). 2.5 O.Sacks (1985) The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. London: Picador (cited in Francis and Kramer-Dahl 1992). 2.6 Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities (cited in Gutt 1991). 2.7 S.P.Bobrov and M.P.Bogoslovskaja (1957) Povest o dvukh gorodakh. Moscow: Sobranie sochenennii (cited in Gutt 1991). 2.8 Abdul Rahman Munif (1973) Al-Ashjaar wa Ightiyal al-shaykh Marzuuq (The Trees and the Assassination of Sheikh Marzuq). Beirut: The Arab Establishment for Research and Publishing. 2.9 Abdul Rahman Munif The Trees (trans. the Iraqi Cultural Centre 1982). x 2.10 Naguib Mahfouz (1956) Bayn al-qasrayn (Between the Two Palaces). The American University in Cairo Press Naguib Mahfouz Palace Walk (1991) (trans. W.M.Hutchins and O.E.Kenny). New York: Anchor Books Guardian, 26 February UN Security Council records (1987) (King Hussain of Jordan, original speech in Arabic). 3.4 UN Security Council records (1987) (King Hussain of Jordan, interpretation of speech from Arabic). 3.5 Consecutive interpreting sample. 3.6 Arab TV news programme UN Security Council records (1987) (Egyptian head of delegation, original speech in Arabic). 3.8 UN Security Council records (1987) (Egyptian head of delegation, interpretation of speech from Arabic). 3.9 Arab TV news programme ITV interview Woman interviewed in a BBC TV documentary on violence to women. 4.1 J.Delors; address to European Parliament, 9 February Steichen, European Commissioner; address to European Parliament, 11 February C.Sautet (1992) Un Coeur en hiver (Feature film+english subtitles). Reproduced by permission of Claude Sautet, and Cinéa and Nigel Palmer (for English subtitles). 6.1 G.B.Shaw (1916) Pygmalion. Reproduced by permission of The Society of Authors, on behalf of the Bernard Shaw Estate Yusuf All (1984) The Holy Qur an: Text Translation and Commentary. Kuwait: Dar al-salasil. 7.5 Book of Jonah. The Bible (Authorised Version). 8.1 Report of Trinity launch taken from a radio interview with Paul Chilton, Australian Broadcasting Commission, 1985 (cited in Lee 1992 p. 84). 8.2 Is the clubbing of seals humane?, editorial in International Wildlife, March-April 1983 (cited in Martin 1985). 8.3 Niblock (1980) Dilemmas of non-oil economics in the Arab Gulf, 1 Arab Papers Series. London: The Arab Research Centre The Economist, London, 6 February Modi M. Abdul Aziz (1986) Al Hijar. Mecca: Umm al-qura University Press. 8.7 Modi M.Abdul Aziz (1994) Settling the Tribes: The Role of the Bedouin in the Formation of the Saudi State (trans. B.Hatim and R.Buckley). London: Al-Saqi Books. 8.8 Edward Said (1987) Orientalism. Harmondsworth: Penguin, p Suggested translation of sentence from Said s Orientalism. 9.1 Ayatollah Khomeini (1991); address to instructors and students of religious seminaries, transcribed and translated by BBC Monitoring Service, Guardian, 6 March 1989, the Guardian. 9.2 M.Léon-Portilla Tiene la historia un destine / History or destiny, reprinted from Correo de la UNESCO/UNESCO Courier, April E.Le Roy Ladurie (1975) Montaillou, village occitan de 1294 à Paris: Gallimard, Editions Gallimard E.Le Roy Ladurie (1980) Montaillou (trans. B.Bray) Harmondsworth: Penguin The Economist, 10 November Watergate hearing (cited in Fairclough 1989) John Ashbery (1979) Metamorphosis, in As We Know. New York: Viking (cited in McHale 1992) Al-Sharq Al-Awasat Concocted data Muhammed Shuqri (1995) Zaman al-akhta. Rabat Muhammed Shuqri (1996) Streetwise (trans. E.Emery). London: Al- Saqi Books A.Kertesz (1979) Visual agnosia: the dual deficit of perception and recognition, Cortex, 15: (cited in Francis and Kramer-Dahl 1992). xi xii 11.2 O.Sacks (1985) The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. London: Picador (cited in Francis and Kramer-Dahl 1992) Enoch Powell (cited in Sykes 1985) The Woolwich Building Society; reproduced with permission, from an old advertisement used here for illustration only World Health Forum vol. 5, no. 2, Reproduced by permission of the Office of Publications, World Health Organization UN Official Record of the Diplomatic Conference (1974 7) EU directive. While the authors and publishers have made every effort to contact copyright holders of material used in this volume, they would be grateful to hear from any they were not able to contact. Chapter 1 Unity in diversity The world of the translator is inhabited by an extraordinary number of dichotomies, reflecting divisions which either exist or are supposed to exist between mutually exclusive opposites. Some of these are professional, corresponding to the traditional areas of activity of translators (the technical translator, the literary translator, the legal, the religious and so on). Others distinguish between different modes of translating: written, oral (such as simultaneous interpreting) and written-from-oral (such as screen subtitling), which again correspond to different professional orientations. A further set of dichotomies pertains to an age-old debate concerning the translator s priorities: literal versus free, form versus content, formal versus dynamic equivalence, semantic versus communicative translating and in more recent times translator visibility versus invisibility. This proliferation of terms and categories reflects the diversity of the translation world. Between the experience of the Bible translator, working in remote locations and with wholly unrelated languages, and that of the staff translator producing parallel copy of in-house documents in closely related languages, there is indeed a world of difference. Many of the concerns of the court interpreter are not shared, for example, by the translator of classical poetry. Indeed, their paths hardly ever cross. Yet there is a core of common concern which sometimes escapes unnoticed. It is striking that, beyond the widely diverging constraints which operate in different fields and modes of translating, so many of the intractable problems are shared. In this book, we propose to investigate areas of mutual interest and to uncover the striking uniformity which emerges when translating is looked upon as an act of communication which attempts to relay, across cultural and linguistic boundaries, another act of communication (which may have been intended for different purposes and different readers/hearers). The common thread here is communication and, as the title of this book implies, our investigation is of communication strategies in the sense of the underlying principles behind the production and reception of texts all texts, written and spoken, source and target, technical and nontechnical, etc. The translator is, of course, both a receiver and a producer. We would like to regard him or her as a special category of communicator, one 2 THE TRANSLATOR AS COMMUNICATOR whose act of communication is conditioned by another, previous act and whose reception of that previous act is intensive. It is intensive because, unlike other text receivers, who may choose to pay more or less attention to their listening or reading, translators interact closely with their source text, whether for immediate response (as in the case of the simultaneous interpreter) or in a more reflective way (as in the translation of creative literature). There are, as always, some apparent exceptions to the general rule. It may, for instance, be argued that poetry is essentially an act of self-expression and not one of communication. Therefore, an account of communication would be irrelevant to the work of the translator of poetry. But a poem which is to be translated has first to be read and the act of reading is, we submit, part of what we understand as communication. There may be all kinds of constraints which make the translation of poetry a special case, with its own concerns and problems, but
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